Returning Manchester United assistant manager Steve McClaren has hinted that Harry Maguire’s captaincy could be shared at the club next season.
Speaking on The McClaren Performance Podcast (via The Mirror), Erik ten Hag’s right hand man explained that United need “cultural architects” – leaders who will command the respect of the squad and help to send out the right messages about attitude, commitment and motivation.
And while he mentioned no names, the former assistant to Sir Alex Ferguson clearly suggested that Maguire would not be expected to take on the role alone any more.
“Who can you build this team around?” he said.
“There’s not one leader, there’s not one captain, there are a few lieutenants and they’re all connectors and connected to each other.
“Some through their status, some through their talent and some through their attitude to make each other better.”
Of course, there cannot be multiple players wearing the armband at the same time, but the 61 year old has opened the door to a situation where the honour would be shared among several players.
Maguire’s performances last season were well below par and he captained a ship that was at times like football’s equivalent of the Titanic.
He also marshalled a defence that shipped a record number of goals in the club’s history.
If McClaren’s criteria for determining who should be captain are status, talent and attitude to make each other better, it is hard to see whether Maguire qualifies for any of these as things stand.
It has been argued many times that part of the reason for Maguire’s struggles could indeed be that he has to carry the extra burden of the captaincy.
On paper, both Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes have big ticks by all three criteria, but they are both also prone to poor body language, throwing their hands in the air when things go wrong, something that McClaren openly criticised in his previous podcast.
David de Gea is another candidate, although there are disadvantages to making the goalkeeper captain in terms of his availability to be involved around all areas of the pitch.